In Stringfellows Restaurants Ltd v Quashie, the Court of Appeal has reinstated the Employment Tribunal’s decision that a lap dancer was self-employed and accordingly could not pursue an unfair dismissal claim.

The Court of Appeal considered that too many factors in this case pointed away from an employment relationship. Most importantly, the financial risk lay entirely with Ms Quashie. She negotiated her fees with individual clients and was paid exclusively by them. In addition, since she had to pay various fees and fines to the club, she risked being out of pocket on any given night. These arrangements were backed up by written contract terms in which Ms Quashie accepted that she was self-employed. Although there were certain mutual obligations, such as the requirement to follow rules relating to the lap dancers’ rota, dress and dances, these were not sufficient for her to have employee status. Overall, the evidence demonstrated that both parties meant her to be self-employed.

Contracts with self-employed workers should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they reflect the intentions of the parties and the practical realities of their working relationship, whilst minimising the risk of workers being classed as employees. As the Stringfellows case illustrates, this is a difficult area which even the courts find difficult to determine with certainty